Nelson city council named its cultural and sports ambassadors, its heritage award recipient, and sustainability awards winners at its online meeting on Jan. 26.
Jesse Pineiro, owner and coach at the Nelson Boxing Club was named this year’s sports ambassador.
“Jesse is an accomplished boxer and under his leadership the Nelson Boxing Club has become highly successful, winning championships throughout the province,” Mayor John Dooley said in presenting the award.
Pineiro was named coach of the year by Boxing BC in 2020 and his boxers have won numerous national and provincial medals.
“We are really proud of you and want to thank you for your commitment to our community, and the youth especially,” Dooley said.
“This is a huge honour for me,” Pineiro said, “and it makes my really happy to be in this town and doing what I do here, where it is appreciated … I will do my best to be worthy of it.”
Sydney Black, chair of the city’s cultural development committee, presented the cultural ambassador award for 2021 to novelist Roz Nay.
“Roz Nay, who began her career in a Selkirk College creative writing class has, in just a few short years, established herself as of one of Canada’s leading writers of psychological thrillers,” Black said, adding that Nay’s national bestsellers Our Little Secret and Hurry Home have been translated into seven languages and received international acclaim.
“I came to Nelson and had not written anything,” Nay said in receiving the award, “and it has been such a great town to begin in and be supported by, and I feel proud to mention I am from Nelson.”
Councillor Jesse Woodward told council he was a student in that same Selkirk College writing class.
“When you and I took that writing course together,” he told Nay, “it was clear, clear as day, that you were going to go somewhere and the rest of us were not.”
Previous cultural ambassadors are musician Marilyn Hatfield, writer Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, singer Allison Girvan, visual artist Ian Johnson, singer Bessie Wapp, filmmaker Amy Bohigian, dancer Hiromoto Ida, fabric artist Angelika Werth, writer Anne DeGrace, and the Corazón Youth Choir.
Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History received the heritage award for its cold war bunker project.
In the 1950s and 60s, nearly 50 underground bunkers were constructed across Canada to shelter up to 8,000 officials in the event of a nuclear war.
Nelson’s bunker was secretly constructed under the post office in 1964 and equipped to shelter 70 people.
City cultural development officer Joy Barrett, presenting the award to Touchstones’ executive director Astrid Heyerdahl, said, “Touchstones had put a tremendous amount of work into this site. The bunker and the artifacts it houses are a lasting legacy for generations to come.”
Receiving the award, Heyerdahl said, “I am giddier than I thought I would be. I have to pass over all the praise to the staff, board and volunteers who have worked since 2013 to bring the bunker back to life as a heritage and educational site and a tourist destination.”
Sustainability leadership awards
The sustainability leadership awards were given this year to the Youth Climate Corps, the Nelson Community Food Centre, and the Nelson Tennis Club.
“The Youth Climate Corps is a promising model for empowering youth in communities to take action for our global future,” Dooley said.
The group was formed this year by Wildsight in response to the pandemic and escalating climate change, to provide young people with an income to work on community projects.
For four months, 14 local people age 19 to 29 worked on a number of projects including thinning and clearing the forest in the vicinity of the city’s water line at Five Mile Creek as a wildfire mitigation measure.
Group member Graeme Lee Rowlands, receiving the award, said the members of the group have “enthusiastically taken on this chance to give something back.”
Dooley said that in the past year, the Nelson Community Food Centre has adjusted its service model, partnered with Nelson CARES to distribute food to precariously housed clients in local motels, partnered with five local restaurants to provide food bank clients with vouchers for meals, and grown 800 pounds of food for distribution through the food bank.
“The Nelson Community Food Centre continues to bring people facing adversity together around good food for all,” Dooley said.
The food centre’s Jessica Chant said the pandemic has presented the organization with many opportunities for innovation.
“We are proud of the work we have done … This award has puffed us up a bit at a time we really needed it,” she said.
Dooley said the Nelson Tennis Club, through impressive volunteerism, grant funding, and generous local businesses, has built four new tennis courts, two pickleball courts and a multi-use area for basketball, street hockey, skateboarding beside L.V. Rogers Secondary.
“How did you guys do all this work and mostly we didn’t even notice it was happening?” Dooley said.
Club president Keith Bridger, receiving the award, said longtime volunteer Rob Wright deserves much of the credit.
”It was Rob’s idea in the first place and he has been a driving force, as he has been in the sports community for decades. For Rob and me it was a total labour of love, we looked forward to it every day, the teamwork and camaraderie.”
The recipients of the sustainability awards each received an $1,150 honorarium. The cultural, heritage and sports recipients received $1,000 each.